THE wrecks of two submarines which sank more than 100 years ago have been given protected status.

A First World War German U-boat which was sunk in 1915 and a British A-class submarine that sank in 1912 before being salvaged and used as a gunnery target have been made protected historic wreck sites.

The German U-8 was the first to be sunk in British waters, after it was snared in anti-submarine nets off the coast of Folkestone, Kent, as it passed through the Dover Strait in March 1915.

It was hit by the destroyer Ghurka and forced to surface, where it was abandoned, and then sank after coming under more fire from fellow-destroyer Maori, though the crew all survived and were marched through the town to Dover Castle.

One of the propellers from the wreck, which lies in the Dover Strait, was returned to the German Navy after being stolen by divers and was found used as a coffee table in Kent. The second propeller is still missing.

The British A3 submarine sank in February 1912 off Lulworth, Dorset, after being accidentally rammed while surfacing by the depot ship HMS Hazard off the Isle of Wight.

The vessel was salvaged and subsequently sunk as a gunnery target, now lying east of Portland.

Protecting the German U-8 is part of a project by Government heritage agency Historic England to investigate the locations of 11 submarines known to have been lost in the First World War in English waters, to better understand their condition.

Heritage Minister Tracey Crouch said: "The UK has a long and proud maritime heritage and these wreck sites tell an important story about our past.

"As we mark the centenary of the First World War, it is fitting that we remember the role of the wider war at sea and I am excited that these sites will be protected for years to come."

Mark Dunkley, maritime designation adviser for Historic England, said: "The U-8's design and construction, complete with six torpedoes, marked a turning point in submarine development.

"The Type U-5 boats were superior to allied submarines both in fighting ability and seaworthiness. The U-8 sits upright on the seabed in excellent condition and you can still see its periscopes and radio masts attached."

Scuba divers will still be able to visit the wrecks following their protection as responsible diving will be permitted under licences which can be obtained from Historic England.